We’re back! Yesterday, we kicked off our mid-year list with some truly crushing albums, ranging from the heavy to the progressive to the down right insane. As this list keeps going, it’s going to become quite clear just how good 2014 has been to us. Seriously, can any of you remember a year filled with more amazing and exciting records? And in the first half of it, as well? We’re not planning on stopping any time soon!
Without further ado, here’s an arbitrarily arranged list of awesome albums from 2014 so far. Remember: it’s okay to not like thing.
Albums that didn’t quite make it, but still ruled:
Sunn O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials || Soreption – Engineering the Void || Lorelei – Lore of Lies || Lord Mantis – Death Mask||
Fucked Up – Glass Boys || Boris – Noise || Triptykon – Melana Chasmata ||
Closure in Moscow – Pink Lemonade || Nothing – Guilty of Everything || Telepathy – 12 Areas. ||
Alterbeast – Immortal
Metal has become over-saturated with sound-alike bands writing music that copies their idols rather than creating something fresh. There are only so many notes that you can play on a guitar after all. Where Alterbeast have innovated, rather than imitated, is by picking and choosing the finer moments of technical death metal and interweaving them into a tapestry, splattered by the razor sharp elements of melodic death. Thus we have Immortal, their debut which will no doubt become a point of reference for countless acts of the future. When this record gets heavy, it gets really goddamn heavy. Tremolo picking makes way for swamp deep Morbid Angel-inspired riffing with guitar sweeps and flourishes stabbing through. Even in the busiest of technical passages, when one is in awe of the double guitar and bass noodling, there is no respite from an imminent breakneck change of tempo.
As enigmatic as they are heavy, Thou are one of the most prolific bands in any genre. Although all their titles are usually impressive, this one really caught our ears. On the first few listens, Heathen sounds like chaos, rage and grief blasting directionless from all parties involved. But slowly an avoidable method to the madness begins to emerge. Ranging from disputations of philosophy to meditations on the pointless nature of free will, Heathen is a calculated yet primal cry for revolt. Directing these messages are titanic, sludge filled passages, black metal spliced with post, layer piled upon layer. We won’t lie and say that this is an often played album, since it requires attention and endurance. But when you have one of those days, where all that you want is to sit back and hear the world collapse around you, there is no album better for that. Getting lost in the abrasive vocals and immense soundscape is easy and alluring. Thou have truly outdone themselves and have brought us an album that manages to be relentlessly heavy and yet touching at the same time.
Yaujta – Songs of Descent
Just when you thought this list couldn’t get that much heavier, Yaujta come along to blast your ears away. This is by far one of the heaviest and most groovy releases of the year and one which has gone criminally unnoticed. Songs of Descent is a brutal ride that delves into Gojira, grindcore and punk. In short, an aural test that is certain to not only level you flat but also get you moving. This album moves itself and it will not allow you to rest for a second. Just when you think you have things nailed down, Yaujta turn the tables right over your head, throwing in a line so sludgy it puts Pallbearer to shame or flying off into some grind-induced hallucination. All things aside though, our favorite part about this band is that it grew through their shows. They are notoriously known for breaking apart any and all venues they play in and have spent a long time hitting the stages, living off the land and their hardcore fans. Pick this album up for guaranteed aggression, pomp and dirty, stinky metal.
Archspire – The Lucid Collective
We use many adjectives to describe albums, trying to convey some sort of feeling for the album to you, the reader. This one begs a few: resplendent, crisp, bright, snappy. The Lucid Collective places Archspire right at the top of the prolific year technical death metal has been displaying so far. This album has all the right elements: insanely well composed and orchestrated guitars and an outer instrumental layer which surrounds and elevates them. But the true genius of this album really does lie in the composition phase. Into the breakneck corners of chord after chord, picks, frets and screeches, the band have managed to inject feeling and most importantly, humanity. One always feels that he’s listening to people play, to people who care about their work and their listeners. This wards off the air of stagnation that often accompanies technical death metal albums on repeated listens and ensures that you’ll keep spinning this one over and over again, even after you’ve come to terms with the intricacies being performed. In a genre that is filled with skillful players, Archspire show us what is needed to rise to the next level: presence, ingenuity and simple, elusive, feeling.
Architects – Lost Forever // Lost Together
We’re making progress! As the list grows shorter, we begin to wax nostalgic for the last six months. Join us again tomorrow as we continue this meandering journey through 2014 so far!